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Saturday, May 28, 2011
May 28, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:50 PM :: 9588 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

Complete list of Neighborhood Board Election Results

Berg: Support needed for Community Benefits Bills on Council Agenda

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies protests subpoena of Maui Time online Commenters’ IDs

Hawaii Workers Comp Fails Workers and Doctors—but Lawyers are given a “Raft of Protocols”

Few primary care doctors accept workers' compensation insurance. Reimbursement is low, detailed treatment plans must be submitted before sending patients to specialists for MRIs or other procedures, and all care after 60 days must be pre-approved. None of the local workers' compensation carriers can interface with electronic medical records, yet they all require medical records to be submitted with every bill. Carriers often contest compensability, at times motivated by a contentious employer. Because the compensation to personal injury attorneys is limited and usually a long time in coming, it is only a minority who accept these cases. Carriers often hire physicians to perform independent medical evaluations. However, most opinions are rendered by physicians who are not primarily in clinical practice. Those who work for the defense know that if their opinions are too "patient friendly," it can affect job security.

2004: Effort to reform Hawaii Workers Comp Killed by Legislature

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VA, Pentagon to combine Electronic Health Records

"It's taken us two years to get here. That tells you how difficult this is. The two largest departments, with a lot of culture and a lot of pride, and two good electronic health records (systems), maybe the best in the country, they just don't link very well," Shinseki said.

"We've committed to going to a single, common joint platform for electronic health records, and I'm very pleased, as I know (Gates) is, that we've been able to arrive at this point."

The integration will allow the electronic records of a person serving in the military to easily make the transition into the VA's medical system when he or she leaves the service.

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Homeless leave Waianae, move Downtown

On Oahu the number of unsheltered homeless stood at 1,322 in 2011, down from 1,374 in 2010. But there was a noticeable shift from the Waianae Coast to downtown Honolulu. In 2010 the Wai­anae Coast had the highest concentration of unsheltered homeless with 410 unsheltered individuals (29.8 percent of the island's total unsheltered homeless population), while downtown Honolulu recorded 394 people (28.7 percent). This year the highest concentration of unsheltered homeless is in downtown Honolulu (448 people or 33.9 percent), with Waianae accounting for just 296 people (22.4 percent).

(Can Abercrombie overcome 448 bums to save APEC?)

AP: Point-in-time survey shows Hawaii's homeless population rises slightly

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WW2 Memorial Needs Paint, Abercrombie Admin blames Lingle

"There's a process you go through when you deal with lead paint. It's a specialty. It's not like you just go there and recover and paint. So it's has to be encased and then removed and repainted," Coppa said.

He estimated that the monument will be repainted and the project completed in the next two to three months.

"I wish we could have had it finished by Memorial Day, but we just got in office, and we're trying to get things caught up," Coppa said, referring to the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who was sworn in to office last December.

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Hawaii spends $12,399 per student: DoE blames HECO for poor Student Performance

Hawaii's public school system ranks 11th in the nation in per-pupil spending, with $12,399 spent per student on average in fiscal year 2009, U.S. Census figures released Wednesday show.  (And student performance is near last)

That was a 12 percent increase from the previous fiscal year, when per-pupil spending in Hawaii stood at $11,800, the 12th highest in the nation. In fiscal year 2007, Hawaii spent $11,060 on average per student, Census figures show.

(Naturally the SA didn’t ask about poor student performance, but the DoE was making excuses anyway….)

Though Hawaii is near the front of the pack when it comes to per-pupil spending, state Department of Education officials say the increase in the 2009 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2009, probably was driven by rising costs for expenses, such as utilities.  (Excuse #1)

They also say the per-pupil spending doesn't reflect the big hits the department has taken more recently because of the economic downturn.  (Excuse #2)

Hawaii's per-pupil spending is $1,900 higher than the national average of $10,499. 

Census Data: http://www.census.gov/govs/school/

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New 3 yr Mainland Prison Contract Overdue

Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said repeatedly he wants to halt out-of-state incarceration of Hawaii prison inmates, the state is finalizing the award of a new, three-year contract for Mainland imprisonment of up to 2,000 convicts.

The contractor selection was supposed to be made at the beginning of this week, but a public safety official said the issue was still being finalized.

A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the company that owns a private Arizona prison where some 1,900 Hawaii medium security inmates have been held, said he could not comment because contractor selection is still underway.

Abercrombie and other officials say new prison space, owned by the state or a private partner, needs to be developed here.

Related: Hawaii to keep prisoners on Mainland: Lack of space forces state to continue to bid out for incarceration, Theme of Prison Audit lifted from Kat Brady commentary

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Hunters hit back at DLNR “Propaganda”: No Axis deer on Big Isle

"I absolutely guarantee you there's at least a few," Schipper said.

Unconvinced of that claim, however, is veteran Big Island hunter Patrick Pacheco.

"That's all propaganda. There's no deer," said Pacheco, who has been hunting on the Big Island for 50 years.

To gain confirmation, Pacheco said he checked Friday with fellow hunters in Ka'u, Hamakua, Kona and Kohala. All, he said, offered the same story.

"If they had any deer, we would have known about it, Pacheco added. "This is a fact: There's no deer on the Big Island except for Panaewa (Rainforest) Zoo." ….

Some people have mistaken sheep for female axis deer, Schipper said. (Backpedaling)

Recent sightings include a report from a helicopter pilot who claimed to have seen 10 deer in South Kona, he said. The pilot, however, has not been located to provide more details, Schipper said. (Backpedaling more)

"I have not seen any (axis deer)," said Richard Hoeflinger, who has hunted for 60 years, including 15 years on Hawaii Island, and currently serves as president of Big Island Gun Dogs.

 

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Interest in electric vehicles high in Hawaii: Honolulu creates an online permitting system for home charging stations

Nissan North America, which designated Hawaii as one of its seven U.S. roll-out markets for the Leaf, has about 300 reservations for the vehicle so far in Hawaii, according to Ron Hansen, a representative from the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association. The other roll-out markets for the Leaf are Tennessee, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Texas.

To get to Hawaii's permitting website for electric vehicle charging stations: Go to dppweb.honolulu.gov, click on New Online Permit and, under the Electrical heading, click on Electric Vehicle Charger installation.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, has received 92 confirmed reservations from Hawaii residents for its i MiEV, according to John Nakamoto, manager for the business development EV operations department for Mitsubishi Motors North America.

"This represents the largest state in our pre-order system, although California is right behind this number," Nakamoto said….

HADA said that to meet the clean energy goals in the transportation sector, it will take a portfolio of solutions, including not just electric vehicles, but plug-in electric hybrids, gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, alternative-fuel vehicles and fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles.

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Dismissal sought in Kaho'ohalahala residency dispute

Attorneys for former Maui County Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to force him out of office, noting that his term ended almost six months ago.

But plaintiffs in the lawsuit said that doing so would reward what they described as Kaho'ohalahala's delay tactics, and that a verdict was needed in the case to help guide public officials in future disputes over council member residency. Plaintiffs also noted that their suit asked for Kaho'ohalahala to pay back salary and reimbursements he received from the county while serving as a council member, which they valued at more than $200,000.

A hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the courtroom of 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza.

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Maui: Ex-police officer pleads guilty in theft and sex assault cases

In his plea agreement, Galon admitted that on Nov. 10, 2007, he stopped a driver for an alleged traffic violation. During the pat-down search Galon seized the man's wallet containing $1,561. Galon removed $1,550 from the wallet, returned to it the man and released him with a warning not to drive because he is in the country illegally. According to the indictment the man is a citizen of Honduras.

Galon also admitted that on Aug. 19, 2008, a woman was walking home after her release from custody at the department's Lahaina station when he offered her a ride home. He agreed to help the woman with potential criminal charges against her and then sexually assaulted her.

 

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Hawaii County Cost of Gov’t Commission focuses on How to extract more money from Residents

The Cost of Government Commission is finalizing its report to Mayor Billy Kenoi and the County Council before it disbands June 30. The draft report contains dozens of recommendations, but at Kenoi's request, the commission is trying to pinpoint three or four that can be accomplished quickly.

Commissioners, in a departure from previous commissions, are looking at ways to increase revenues in addition to cutting costs.  (Thus completely perverting its purpose.)

The other most highly ranked recommendations are:

-- Require financial documentation to qualify for agricultural property tax exemptions (chosen by four members).

-- Eliminate homeowners' property tax exemption for unpermitted dwellings (chosen by four members).

-- Create an Enforcement Division by consolidating the enforcement responsibilities of the departments and divisions of Planning, Building, Real Property Tax, Environmental Management and Health (chosen by three members).

-- Implement technology solutions to common problems, such as using the county's scale house to coordinate collection of tipping fees (chosen by three members).

In addition, two commissioners highly ranked limiting travel by using videoconferencing or other technology, creating a grant-writing specialist position to bring in more money, implementing a countywide technology plan, reducing change orders to contracts, and imposing solid waste and recycling fees by adding them to property tax bills.

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County programs serving few a burden to taxpayers

It has been often said that the principal difference between our two political parties is that the Republicans want too little government and the Democrats want too much government. In Hawai‘i it is rather apparent which party has been dominant.

Local governments are instituted to provide services that are best administered proximate to the citizens being served. Some basic services that are nearly universally offered by local government, i. e. counties or cities, are police and fire protection. Such basic services are offered to benefit all citizens. But local governments particularly in areas controlled by advocates for expanded government look for instances where they can serve only a portion of the public.

On Kaua‘i there are a number of illustrations where the county government has acted to provide a governmental service to a segment of the population. They are generally familiar to members of the public. They include the Wailua Golf Course, the sanitary sewers, the water service, the bus service and the Eastside bike path.

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Bicyclists protest Waialae road plan

The city Department of Design and Construction is planning to put out to bid within a month a project to repave and resurface Waialae Avenue, which is expected to happen this fall.

The city plans to use this opportunity to re-stripe the road with "sharrows," or markings for shared lanes that both bicycles and cars may use. But that's not what the bicyclists want, and they say it's not in the spirit of the "Complete Streets" legislation passed in 2009 by the state, which called for planning for all types of street users, from pedestrians to bicyclists.

"We're here because the proper design process wasn't carried out," said R.J. Martin, a University of Hawaii-Manoa graduate student and a member of Cycle Manoa, an advocacy group.

Before the city can implement bike lanes, which are a separate narrow lane for bicycles, it needs to study how that change would affect traffic, said city Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka.

"The narrowness in some sections of the road, we may have to take away a lane or remove contra-flow operations in the morning," Yo­shioka said. "Additionally, in certain areas it looks like some of the scenarios we have require removal of on-street parking."

That means the city has to reach out to property owners and nearby businesses to assess the impact, Yoshioka said.

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Hawaii Puppy Mill Faces 153 Animal Cruelty Counts

The owner of a Waimanalo puppy mill has been charged with 153 counts of animal cruelty, Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro announced Friday. The charges carry a possible 153-year sentence.

The complaint, filed Thursday in Kaneohe District Court, accuses Bradley International, the company that owns and runs the puppy mill, of 153 counts of animal cruelty, or one count for each of the dogs rescued.

The company's agent could serve a maximum of one year in prison, as well as pay a $2,000 fine — for each count.

The charges come after the Hawaiian Humane Society rescued 153 mistreated dogs in February. The dogs had been living in squalid conditions covered with matted fur and mange. Three puppies died despite the rescue.

HNN: Charges filed in the Waimanalo puppy farm case

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Lawmakers from Both Sides Rally for Housing Counseling Funding

Congress eliminated $88 million slated for the federal program to support counseling efforts for foreclosure prevention, as well as reverse mortgages, refinancing, and pre-purchase services back in April as part of a budget resolution agreement for the 2011 fiscal year.

Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) have penned a letter expressing “strong support” for the restoration of funding for HUD’s Housing Counseling Assistance Program and asking that $87.5 million for this “critical program” be included in the budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins in October.

The four lawmakers are circulating the letter among their Senate colleagues, according to sources in D.C., and plan to send it to Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies.

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Akaka votes to Bankrupt Medicare

In Hawaii alone, the Ryan budget proposal would have:  “Ended Medicare, thereby increasing out-of-pocket health care costs for a typical 65 year-old Hawaii senior by $4,209 in 2022 – more than double the cost under current law.”

REALITY: Ryan Budget saves Medicare for those 55 and over

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